Which Type Of Heater Is Cheapest To Run?

Last Updated on December 6, 2022 by Vernon Scott

Which Type Of Heater Is Cheapest To Run

Generally, plug-in (electric) heaters are cheaper to run than using fireplaces. Investing in energy-efficient heaters come with some cost-effective benefits. However, some brands of heaters are exceptional for their reliability.

Apart from portable plug-in heaters, there are radiant, oil-filled, infrared, and natural gas heaters. Your local electricity tariff is a basic factor for determining the cost of running a wall electric heater. While we compare all types of heaters in this article, it will help you to make great buying decisions. And at the end you’ll know all about the cheapest heater to run. 

Top Heaters – Cheaper to Run and Affordable

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What Are Space Heaters?

Space (room) heaters are appliances that are either portable or wall-fitted, but they provide localized heat. They are often used in regions with a temperate climate to heat a small space. Apart from using them during winter months, these devices provide warmth for the elderly, injured patients.

What Type Of Heater Is The Cheapest To Run?

Oil Filled Space Heaters

This type of heater comes with oil-filled radiators. Apart from being effective during cold seasons, they are energy-efficient and safe. You might think that oil-filled space heaters run on oil, but it’s not true. These portable heaters only use the thermal properties of this special oil and run on electricity.

As energy-efficient space heaters, they use diathermic oil to radiate heat even after switching off the device. Usually, the energy requirements for an oil-filled heater (400W – 1500W) is low. You can also get oil-filled heaters with higher wattage.

How Do Oil Filled Space Heaters Work?

Like other electric heaters, an oil-filled heater converts electric power into heat with an electric resistor. It has a built-in radiator (heater panel) fins for storing a special (diathermic) oil. It’s the oil that absorbs the heat that has been converted from electricity. Consequently, there will be a rise in the oil’s temperature, and its panel will flow of oil. It’s normal for oil to flow when it is warm. 

The warm oil’s movement allows the radiator to receive heat and draw in more cool air from your room. Naturally, the surrounding space will have a uniform temperature because of the heater’s hot radiator fins. Oil-filled space heaters with larger radiator fins are faster to warm-up rooms.

What Is A Diathermic Oil?

A diathermic oil has both specific heat capacity (SHC) and boiling point. This oil is not a source of fuel for the space heater, but a heat reservoir. Owners of oil-filled heaters don’t have to refill the radiator fins with diathermic oil. In physical sciences, SHC is the amount of heat a substance needs to absorb before its temperature rises by 1 degree Celsius.

Advantages Of Running Oil-Filled Space Heaters

  • An oil-filled heater is more efficient than water-filled space heaters because of its high heat capacity.
  • A diathermic oil’s boiling point is four times higher than water’s boiling point.
  • As a low-noise producing device, you’ll only hear the clicking sound of its thermostat during operations.
  • It’s a portable type of heater that doesn’t need oil replacement.
  • They are the safest room heater (in terms of fire outbreaks) because their heating elements are sealed.

Disadvantages Of Running Oil-Filled Space Heaters

  • The thermostat works with an electric resistor and consumes electricity more than oil-filled space heaters without resistors.
  • A diathermic oil takes four times more to heat because its thermal mass is greater than water.

Infrared Heaters

Infrared heating panels use eco-friendly techniques to radiate heat. It’s like receiving warmth from sunlight during the summer months. Unlike sunlight, infrared lights are invisible. Also, infrared technology is different from both convection and conduction transfer methods of heat.

How Do Infrared Heaters Work?

When you run an infrared heater,  your skin and clothes absorb the heat. It doesn’t heat the surrounding air directly. When it sends heat, the hot air rises and forces the colder air downwards your living space. With an infrared heater, solid objects tend to absorb heat more than air.

However, this type of space heater saves energy by warming up the user instead of heating air. So, there is a low risk of heat escape through your chimneys, and draughty windows.

Advantages Of Running Infrared Heaters

  • An infrared heater’s size is smaller than a regular space heater.
  • It’s energy-efficient because you need between 50 to 100 watts of electricity per square meter.
  • Infrared heaters bring health benefits like improvements of blood circulation and the immune system.
  • Infrared heaters with thermostats act as dehumidifiers and work instantly.
  • This heating technology doesn’t stir up dusty air.
  • They have stylish designs and are eco-friendly.

Disadvantages Of Running Infrared Heaters

  • Unlike conventional space heaters, infrared technology heats people directly. It radiates less energy to the space inside a room.

Radiant Heaters

Radiant heaters are also called convection panel heaters because they have super-quick heating capacities. Usually, radiant heaters come with glowing elements and reflectors. You can buy the portable or wall-mounted model of radiant heaters. They have user-friendly settings like the trip-over protection and the overheat function.

It’s the trip-over protection feature that shuts off your radiant heater when it falls down accidentally. Also, it can run for long periods without overheating (getting too hot) its elements.

Advantages Of Running Radiant Heaters

  • They have a fast heating capacities.
  • Warm-up objects and people directly.
  • Safety features like the overheat, and trip-over protection system.

Disadvantages Of Running Radiant Heaters

  • Most radiant’ bar fire heater models don’t have thermostats.
  • They are not ideal for bedrooms because they emit some visible light that might distort quality sleep.
  • They are a fire risk for children and rooms with low ceiling levels.

Fan Heaters

Fan heaters use heat convection effects to send warm air from their electric heating elements. They are portable electrical appliances that run with noisy built-in motors.

Advantages Of Running Fan Heaters

  • Portable.
  • Lower risk of burns.

Disadvantages Of Running Fan Heaters

  • Noisy operations.


While an electric space heater is more efficient than gas heaters, you need to consider what’s ideal. The running cost of any space heater increases when it needs to warm colder air at the ground surface. However, our article gives you an insight into the type of heater that has the fastest heating capacity.

Vernon Scott

Vernon is the founder of this cool ( read HOT! ) website. He's superbly experienced on heating technologies as well as having clear ideas about modern heating appliances. Vernon has called him " I am a hot ( this time read COOL! ) guy!"

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